Friday, July 2, 2010

"When I grow up I'm gonna live here"

...Michael's comment echoed my thoughts. Homer could be home - at least in the summer. The mountains, sea, wildlife - and an great library - what more could you want? Michael's idea is to have a summer home in Homer and a winter home in Florida. I like the way he thinks - especially since he told Scott and me he'd build us a big cabin if we'd live with him!

The drive along the western side of the Kenai Peninsula affords stunning views of Cook Inlet and the volcanic mountains of the Alaskan Range that rise across the inlet. The volcanoes are active - Mount Redoubt last erupted in 2009 - the result of the melting of the Pacific Plate beneath the North American Plate. The new magma that forms is under such extreme pressure that it sometimes is able to erupt through the crust above.

Spent our first evening in Homer out on the Homer Spit - a narrow 4.5 mile long piece of land that juts into Kachemak Bay. Water surrounds it to the North, East, and South, and the Kenai Mountains are across the water. We drove to the end of the Spit to check out the view - and the fishing. Within 10 minutes we spotted several Bald Eagles, a Sea Otter swam by, and then something I doubted I was seeing - a Humpback Whale swims by, blows 4 times, flips its tail and dives deep. All the time and money I've spent on whale watches in my life and I get the best show for free!

The boys had ridiculous luck catching fish - as soon as they cast, they caught. It was laughable. All pollock - not worth eating so we threw them back, but the boys were so excited. Big fish too - 20 - 24 inches. Elliot made me catch one just so I could say I did. Michael also hooked a starfish which cracked him up.

Next day was a little slower, fish weren't biting, no whales but tons of Bald Eagles and Sea Otters. There's a little pool of water with a tiny inlet from the bay where you can fish for salmon - looks like a kiddie fishing pond. We didn't catch any salmon but the 3 harbor seals that swam in had better luck.

Today (Friday) is our last full day in Alaska. Scott is Halibut and Ling Cod (sp?) fishing so the boys and I have the day to ourselves. We slept in then spent about 4 hours walking the Spit. Everyone was a bit grumpy yesterday so I was very happy that we all got along today. We tossed football for a while, checked out the wildlife, looked in some shops, and ate some ice cream. Michael had a rootbeer float with mint chocolate chip ice cream. To the surprise of the girls at the counter, he loved it.

Deadliest Catch has a shop on the Spit called The Time Bandit after one of the boats. The guys from Time Bandit are from Homer and dock here when they aren't out for crab or fish. Elliot bought himself a t-shirt - perfect souvenir for him.

I can't overstate how happy I am with our lodging. We are staying at the Hoedel cottage run by Nancy and Gary Hoedel, a retired couple and Alaskan lifers. The cottage is a log cabin that is so clean, cozy, and homey. Scott and I joke about having "life envy" about the Hoedels. Their property is gorgeous - beautiful vegetable and flower gardens (that the moose like to eat), a spectacular view of the mountains and the bay. Gary is a welder who makes crab pots and the occasional reindeer or fairy for their gardens. His workshop is on the property. He's also spent time on crab and fishing boats - not sure if that was professionally or for fun (not sure crab fishing can be described as fun). Nancy knows everyone in Homer - she's lived here her whole life. She runs the B&B and makes you feel like family. When we arrived there was a wrapped plate of cinnamon buns on the counter, a bowl full of fresh fruit and little packets of cereal, oatmeal, cider and hot chocolate on the table, and milk and juice in the fridge. The many quilts and soft blankets, and the wood burning stove almost make it too cozy to leave - I was tempted to just stay in and read by the fire. Nancy says on snowy winter days she comes to the cabin to do just that - gazing out the window now and then to look at the Christmas lights on the snow with the mountains in the background. Yep, I have life envy.

We head for home tomorrow. Fly out about 10 PM so we'll have the day to hike, fish, bird or sightsee. Hoping to stop into a small Russian town, Nikolaevsk, about 20 miles north of here.